Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Must-Know for the How-To of Parenting (and Life)

I am a richer woman for the hours that I’ve spent recently with this wise, wonderful friend.  Sue is the mother of six kiddos: five of the most delightful and polite kids I’ve ever met, and one dearly missed son in heaven.  Last week she shared with me about a class she’s teaching on parenting.

“People often bring in stories, difficulties in parenting, and expect that I should have the answer for how to fix it.  I always tell them, you have to first know what you value, and then you can figure out how to fix a situation.”  (Some of her family’s values are respect, love, truth, creativity.)

“If your kid is struggling with grades at school... Well, what do you value?  If the most important thing to you is that your kid is at the top of his class, then you’ll need to tutor and push and maybe cheat and bribe your way to your goal.   You just might get there.   Or if you more greatly value your kid enjoying his education and truly understanding the material no matter his grades, than you’ll have to accept that your kid might not be top of the class.  You must know what you value most to know how to solve an issue.”  And Sue is always glad to share where her values come from too.  Her life and family is rooted and blessed because they treasure and cherish the life-giving, eternal truth of the Word of God.

She also mentioned how sometimes people get quite frustrated if they take on the values of their culture and feel like they have to pursue those, when they’re really not personally owned...  Again, the example is education.  The culture here stresses grades and academic achievement in an incredibly intense way here and some parents feel like they have to run after that goal, as if it's been required of them.

How true this is for Christians too...  advertising and app stores all selling us a lifestyle and life goals and a load of idols to worship with our precious time... so many things that might even directly (though usually, deceptively) oppose Christ.  We must know the values we live for- our King, His Word, His ways, His glory-  so that we can find the “how-to get there” in parenting and in life.     

When Sue shared with me, I had just finished writing up a new schedule for my days where I wrote a life motto at the top of the page:  “to serve with joy”  (from this talk).  A motto isn’t exactly the same as a value but they’re close...  This motto goes a good distance to sum up my values, the heart I want to travel life with.  

Do I want to?  Do we have time to??  Haven’t I done this already???  Serve with Joy.  This little question and answer exercise is good for my heart.  

And sometimes there are decisions to be made, probably reaching beyond our front door,  where that motto needs some support.  Welcome, More for the kingdom.

Since my life is not my own, it’s a darn good thing to check that my decisions are not being made for only my own ends but for the King, for the Kingdom.  Some decision might not bring about any heroic, sacrificial service from me, but it just might mean less of me and more of Him.  Oh bring it,  Lord.  

This gets down deep to the places that I don’t want to change, don’t want to give up, don’t want out of my control.  But is it more for the kingdom?  Then do it, then give it, then serve...with joy.  

A nerve-wrecking invitation?  A chance to get dirty (even hurt) while you bless and love the least of these?  A cap on your spending and an increase in giving... a lifestyle less like the worlds'?   A bold step of faith?  A crazy investment for the sake of others?  It’s all surging in my mind right now...pulsing with all that just might be possible.  More for the Kingdom. Make my heart to say "Yes" to all that you ask, Lord.

They left town in good times in order to duck behind the stage and set the scene for more, a greater expansion of Kingdom work....  The cost was high and there's still no regrets.  More for the Kingdom.  

The soul-poured-out, the tears for the distance, the depth of grief in accepting and in the decision to obey, the friendship tenderly confronted.  More for the Kingdom.

The guest book in a vacation home crammed with thanks for the place made open and available to them (with our thanks signed in it too.)  A place to be still and know....a place for repentance and rest....  More for the kingdom.   

The choice for something harder, that no one understood.  Is it more for the Kingdom?  Yes?  Then do it!  

The widow’s mite laid down in the bucket... more, much more, for the Kingdom.  

And has there ever been a time when He wasn't faithful to all that He's promised to all who loved not their lives, loved not their own, and lost their lives for His sake?  Was it ever, even once, in all history not worth it?  

If we to dare to ask it, we must dare to believe... each moment of prayer and decision and action - more of Him, His kingdom, His glory and less of me, my self-reliance, my plans for success - each and every time it has been worth it all.  Worth Everything.  For His eternal praise, for his people's eternal joy.   May we have grace to never loose sight of His promise.  

We do have to pay attention... this isn’t about more for our church or more for our ministry or more health and wealth so the world will see how happy Jesus makes me.  This is about more for the King who suffered and died for his enemies, more for His Kingdom.  More for Him, more in His ways.  

I know these two lines don’t answer everything.  They aren’t the perfect water tight values summary and they sure don't solve every problem... but I am helped to get to check opportunities by these two lines.  God help me, help us, to serve with joy so that all of my life is poured out, more for your name, more for You, more for your glorious kingdom, O Eternally Worthy God!

K Family Values.  Our Heart's Desires....

Relationship-  with the Lord, our family, the church, our world.  Characterized by honest, vulnerable truth and bold, accepting grace, all the fruits of His Spirt, and integrity, Christ-like character in the dark.

Worship- primarily a commitment to God's word, evidenced in prayer and song, and excellence in education (loving the Lord with our minds), and encouragement to others, and also enjoying creation, inspiration, and expressing our own creativity to His glory.

Service- to each other in our family, and in prayer, hospitality, schooling, church, and outward ministry (evangelism, discipleschip, mercy,...)  Characterized by generosity, flexibility, simplicity and lowliness (servant-hearted).

1 comment:

  1. Jill~ time with your words and thoughts always leaves me wishing for a hot cup of tea and an afternoon FULL of connection and joy! Love to you dear friend!